a tableau of 5 fears (and a not really conclusion)

(I was going to post this blog in parts (I was also going to wait til I was on the other side of the atlantic) BUT I decided against it. It’s kind of long so put up your feet and grab some coffee or a glass of wine. )

My boogie monster was a blond balding wrestler from the 80s.

I think that the first thing I was ever afraid of in my life was The Incredible Hulk (and I think by default I was afraid of Hulk Hogan). I specifically remember my mom telling me when I was little that if I didn’t go to bed the Incredible Hulk would come get me.

My conscious state was terrified of this green monster literally stalking out of the TV and coming into my bedroom.

My subconscious apparently took the “hulk” out of that sentence and my dreams were actually plagued by the wrestler. He would show up in my dreams (and normally nuns were involved…I have no idea why) and he would always say he was going to kidnap me.

I remember, in my dreams, just laying in bed. Staring up at this huge man. So scared that he was going to take me away.

I don’t really understand that fear. Or why I had it. All I know is that childhood fears come in the shape of many things.

Adult fears come in the shape of many things.

And looking back now, I realize as a child that my fears then mirror my fears now.

Not coming in forms I would think.

And all I had was a stuffed cat

She was white and I named her Katrina.

Sometimes I wish I still had her.

When I was younger I had a lot of issues with bed wetting. I saw three different doctors for it for way too many years. No one could figure out what was wrong.

The first two were fine with names that make me laugh to this day. The last one is why I needed a stuffed cat.

His office was off of Millbrook and even though I now we are turning left and not right I still shudder when I got off that exit.

It’s the first legitimate fear I can think of that has to do with a real live person with whom I have interacted.

I don’t think anything wrong was done. I think I was too young. There were things I didn’t understand. Sitting alone in a doctor’s office without your mom or dad. Moments where you weren’t sure why a doctor put his hands where he did.

Moments that made me move from discomfort into fear. It’s when I learned that fear is tied to not feeling safe.

When you don’t feel safe; even if you don’t know why you begin to feel fear.

It can creep on you.

And when you don’t understand your feelings…fear can creep up on you. You actually don’t know what you are afraid of or why. Sometimes God protects you in that moment to not know why you’re afraid. So instead of being afraid of the unknown, you’re afraid of doctor who was just doing his job.

And you squeeze that stuffed cat you have and walk into that doctor’s office and you know that it is the only way you can get through.

I am a walking cliché’.

It was a dark rainy night in Kingsburg. My best friend and I had somehow convinced her mom to let us watch the movie “it”.

We were curled up on the couch, lights out.

Seriously, probably one of the dumbest decisions I have made in my life to date.

I was terrified to fall asleep at night. Terrified to look behind my back. And yes, I became one of the many people who are TERRIFIED of clowns.

And like most horror movies made before special effects budgets were the norm, I can look at the movie and realize how dumb it is, how not well made it is.

But you also better believe that I still flinch when I walk over storm drains, I still cannot stand clowns. And when I walk at the nature preserve by my old apartment…I don’t go anywhere near the huge pipe that moves water. (DUH.t hat’s where the demonic clown lives.)

It’s funny the things that still haunt us, things that are ridiculous. Thing that we know aren’t true.

Mine of course started with the fear of a clown in a storm drain holding a balloon. I know he’s actually not there. I know there won’t be this evil voice that comes from below.

But sometimes now, as an adult, it’s easier to be afraid of things that can’t actually get me then too be afraid of those that can.

Don’t make me sing. (But actually do.)

So high school.

I sang in a choir (I mean if we are being real I’ve ALWAYS sang in a choir)

Anyway. FEAR.

Singing a solo. I always wanted too. But I also always froze.

Which is RIDICULOUS. I’d performed in school plays. Performed monologues. But you put a microphone in front of me and expect me to sing?

I don’t understand.

I remember my senior specifically. I had one of the leads in the school MUSICAL. I was one of the MCs for the spring concert. And I had a solo.

Phantom of the Opera. It was low. It was beautiful. I was terrified.

I got up there and did it.

I probably sucked.

Since then though,I’ve sung multiple solos in college in front of lots of people. I’ve helped lead worship all over the world.

But even in January when I helped lead worship for a conference I lifted the mike to start a song and I felt the shakiness go through me. I remembered Phantom of the Opera. High school.

But I didn’t freeze. I don’t freeze anymore.

But that fear is settled in me.

I have a feeling it’s not just about singing into a microphone. I realize it’s probably something much deeper. Some fear about perfection or whatever.

But to the senior year in high school me; nothing was scarier then singing a 10 measure solo in front of 100 people.

Now, there is nothing scarier than not getting up to sing the song on the mike. The fear of failure overpowers the fear of imperfection, though I’m not sure that’s any better.

This one is actually scary

Last July I was in Mozambique living in the middle of a village. In my tent. (that I was thankfully sharing with someone)

We were in the midst of witchcraft, thieves, and children who poked their heads into our tents at 5 in the morning.

But there was one specific night after most of the teams on our squad had gotten robbed (including ours) where I woke up at about 4 in the morning to what I thought was someone in the grass walking around. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I reached for my multitool and started praying. and for the first time I think I understood the concept behind tasting fear. I could legitimately feel fear going through every single part of my body.

Because I knew if someone were to open my tent and want something I really just had Jesus to protect me. Ha. Just Jesus to protect me.

Let me rephrase:

BUT I knew if someone were to open my tent and want something I HAD JESUS to protect me. And I also had nothing in my tent worth taking.

Like I said though, I could taste the fear and there was nothing that was going to stop that feeling coming into my being.

Fear protects.

It really does. It makes us realize something is not right.

We shouldn’t be in a situation. We shouldn’t be seeing something. We shouldn’t be doing something.

Everything turned out to be ok that night in Mozi. No one unzipped my tent. No one tried to attack me.

I was ok. But I can’t unfeel that feeling of fear in my bones. I’ll carry that with me.

Looked fear in the face. Laughed at it, turned around and forgot what it looked like.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’. You must do the thing you think you cannot do”. (Eleanor Roosevelt).

That is one of my all time favorite quotes. Just the thought, the empowerment, the reminder that time and time again we have looked fear in the face and kept going. That we have looked down the barrel of this thing that scares and remember that we have done it before.

So now, here I am facing another fear. It’s one of failure. Its one of not making it. Not getting to the place I need to be. Not being in the place I need to be.

I’ve looked fear of failure in the face before.

I’ve walked to it and through it.

But it’s still there. I still keep forgetting what it looks like.

So I’ve come full fear circle.

When I was 5 I had no clue why the Hulk scared me so much.

Now I’m 29 and have no actual concrete reason why I’m crippled by fear. Somewhere down the road I’ll know. Maybe it’s because it’s something I really believe in and want to succeed in.

Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of failure. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of standing alone.                  Or just BEING alone.

Who knows.

What I do know is this: Fears in adulthood are never actually about what they are supposed to be about. Fears in adulthood aren’t actually clowns, or the darkness, or the shadow in the corner. It’s about things we can’t control, it’s about failing people, failing yourself so we get lost for a moment in a silly fear, we get lost in a fearing something we have no control over, something so ridiculous it can’t actually touch us instead of the things that can actually cripple us.

So I’m going to walk into this next part of life with my head held a little higher as I realize what I am afraid and what I need to conquer.

And yes, I am still and will always be afraid of clowns.

(if you made it to the end, i’m not only impressed, but also thankful. I’d love your thoughts on fears that transform themselves from childhood to adulthood. ((and also if you too are afraid of clowns)) thank you for reading)

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